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Rotwieler

My first bird dog and his first season any tips?

20 posts in this topic

I have a seven month old German Shorthair. I will be taking him out for his first grouse season this year. I know he isnt gun shy and loves retrieving his grouse dummy(scented). I havent ever trained a hunting dog before what tips can you guys offer for a newbie?

Thanks for the help!

Rott

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I think a pups first season should be nothing but fun, let'em run chase birds make mistakes and let them learn. They can do no wrong the first year. You will 13 or so years for formal training.

Ben

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I. Go buy "How Birddogs Train Themselves" by Baily. Go to Amazon you can probably get a copy shipped to you for under $10. It is short and a very very good thing for a first time versatile dog owner to read.

II. There are two tips:

(1) For all bird dogs - get them out as much as possible and on as many wild birds as possible.

(2) For pointing dogs - try to only shoot birds that the dog has pointed. You want retrieves too, but the dog needs to learn that it's his job is to find birds, point birds, then it's your job is to shoot birds and then he can go fetch up the birds the birds.

(2) is harder than (1), but it can be the difference between your pointer developing into a strong pointing and holding dog rather than a flash point and flush dog (not the end of the word but that's why we buy V-Dogs and not PLs).

Best of luck! Hopefully the grouse numbers are up. You picked a great breed to work with!

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I second the book By Baily. I also agree with Kentuck Ike as well on his point. The only thing I can add is patience, patience, patience, patience....

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That is pretty much what I did with my Britt last season. Tried to make sure it was a fun experience. You can really tell the difference from the beginning to the end of the season with him. He was only 9 months old for pheasant opener and after about half day of figuring out what to do he caught on pretty quick.

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rather than a flash point and flush dog (not the end of the word but that's why we buy V-Dogs and not PLs).

Curious what you mean by this?

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Definitely let the dog have fun. Might want to go with just yourself and the dog, no huntin buddies. Your buddies might get [PoorWordUsage] like mine did when my 8 month lab was flushing pheasants 100 yds ahead of us, he was having a ball smelling and chasin them. Couldnt help but laugh he was having so much fun, He did chase down 6 winged birds. If you have an e-collar for the dog make sure he is use to it and your use to it. Be patient.

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I agree with what fishroger said except for the e-collar part. Just let the dog have fun and praise it when it does right. In my labs first season she flushed many birds 100 yards away but as soon as she flushed it, she came right back. She was so excited about the birds I didn't want to curb that in any way. Now in her third season, she hunts within 30 yards of me.

Let your buddies know you have a younger dog and that it will not be perfect. If they are going to get mad, then don't bring them. Hunting is about having fun and I have the most fun hunting while I am watching a good dog work or a new dog learn.

When you watch your pup learn and succeed, sometimes you will be so proud and happy, you mave even forget to shoot! It happened to me. grin

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I would recommend hunting alone with the pup at first. Make sure he stays ahead of you all the time, stop hunting if starts walking behind you because he is tired. Dont go walking down trails and expect the pup to go through the thick stuff, you have to get in there with him or the pup will just want to hunt trails. I usaully will not bring a pup on trails we just hunt straight through the woods. Have fun with the dog and remember he is a puppy and dont expect to much from him his first year. It is key to get him on all the birds you can.

I live about 60 miles north of Duluth if you want to run your dog with an other pointing dog at some time. But my dog is trained to have a far range and thats not for everyone.

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First, great stuff. I was often told to hunt the dog my itself. While not always possible (hunting is often times a group/family activity) I agree that it is a good idea. Second, making sure that the pup is staying out ahead is great advice. I would often stop and have my pup make his out ahead then do my best to follow along. Thick cover can slow a pup down. I had to slow down too.

Finally, PL means Pointing Lab. I often hunt behind a lab bred to point. He pins birds as well as any dog I have ever seen - when he feels like it. Otherwise he is a flushing dog working best when he stays under the gun. I have heard testimony that PL's can be broke completely to wing and shot, or even to fall. However, what is far more likely (in my opinions and ithat of several well thought of professional trainers I have discussed the training of PLs vs. the training of "true" pointing breeds with) is that a PL turns into what is commonly in the v-dog or pointing dog community referred to as a meat-dog. A meat-dog is a dog that will point a bird until the hunter gets close enough then flush the bird on its own rather than having the hunter move ahead and flush it.

Again, there is nothing wrong with this kind of hunting. It can put a lot of birds in the bag and be tons of fun. In fact some people will even train a previously broken dog to flush on command - heck the dog knows where the bird is. In general, however, people purchase versatile breeds or pointing breeds because they want a full time pointer who holds the bird until the hunter, rather than the dog, flushes the bird.

I do not hold myself out as an expert on PLs nor do I have anything against them. There are lots of reasons to own labs. I grew up with one. Further, the only times I personally have seen labs point it has been done very well, just not consistently. The generalization that I share was shared with me by people I respect, who have bred and worked with PLs a great deal. Not only am I convinced based on these first hand accounts, but to me it makes a great deal of sense that a breed originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, then adapted for upland hunting, and now to point, cannot be expected to consistently perform in the same manner as breeds who have been consistently bred for that very reason.

It is based on this same reasoning that I refuse to believe that Setters, Shorthairs or Pointers will consistently outperform Labs or Chessies when it comes to retrieving waterfowl. Many can do the work (for instance my Wirehair's Sire earned his HRC his brother earned his MHRC, and I know that there are PLs who have out performed pointing breading in specific field competitions), but there is a reason it took 100 plus years of thoughtful breeding to get the different breeds to where they are at and why people choose their dogs accordingly.

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That's what I thought, and there certainly are those PL's or labs in general that will do just as you describe (probably many of them). There are also many out there that are very good at pointing, are consistent, and are not at all like what you describe. Unfortunately there are many people breeding PL's (or so called) and many are not up to the standards of PL's should be (not saying this is the case for the people you speak with). Combine that with the training that goes into them and you can find many reasons why you may see/hear what you do. I will say that buying a PL is not a given that it will point....however there are many good breeders of them out there and many good dogs that come out of these breeders that are consistent. The people that take the time to train them properly and get the dogs on birds (lots of birds) many times can and do have consistent PL's. I don't think the majority get their dogs on enough birds though, and don't hold to standards when it comes to shooting any birds that fly. All these things play a role in developing the PL.

As far as testimony you have heard that PL's can be broke to STW, STS, STF.......I guess I don't understand what the issue is there or what problems they had training steady to fall. There's no reason a lab can't be trained to be steady to fall. As far as what you describe as a meat-dog....you don't think additional training could help with that? I would have to think that there are some v-dogs that break point and flush....and require additional work. Were the dogs that would break in and flush at all steady to wing, shot, or fall? I'm just wondering if additional work/training could be done vs. just making it sound like these same things don't happen with v-dogs.

Sorry to get off topic......

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I mean zero disrespect Hemi. It really sounds like you and I are on the same page. I am quite sure that with additional work PLs which do point can be fully broken, and it is for sure the case that many GWPs, GSPs, WPG....etc. end up as meat-dogs.

BTW - I do not use the term meat-dog in a derogatory manner! IMO a dog that really figures out how to handle wild birds and put them in front of the gun is a great dog. By my standard (the correct standard for evaluating gun-dogs;) a well bred PL has as good of a chance to become a great dog as any V-Dog...I have no doubt what-so-ever.

All I am saying is that there should be no such thing as a V-Dog that does not point. Period. Further, IMO correct breeding has brought v-dogs/pointers to the a place where pointing, at least to the handler's flush, should happen on its own with nothing more than proper rearing, bird introduction and time in the field. Training is meant to speed up the process and/or to add manners as desired.

One last example. An English Pointer just passed as the NAVHDA invitational earning the title of Versatile Champion (VC). There is some MAJOR water work that goes along with that. Any lab or chessie owner would be proud to own a dog that passed the water portion of the Invitational...no doubt. If I were to buy a puppy out of that EP and it was not a water-bug I would be upset, but what the heck I'm buying an English Pointer. Now, if that same pup did not point...it would be going back to the breeder. IMHO, you could tell the same story about a great PL and flip flop water work for pointing.

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Thank you everyone for the tips! good stuff, i have another quick question about training. I was playing with Gunner and a laser pointer in my livingroom. I thought it was really cool he would point at the red dot! I'm worried though i might be teaching him to use his eyes though instead of his nose? or to look for red dots?

Should i not do this anymore?

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I wouldn't worry about it. I used to torment my GSP with a laser pointer as well. She loves chasing that dot around, although wouldn't point it. The reply to your original post sums it up. Let the dog have fun. Don't put too much pressure on it. Let it explore and enjoy the experience. They aren't going to be a champion hunter the first year out. It'll be frustrating at times but don't let it show too much. Keep with the basics and the dog will learn by what it's bred with. Even at four years old my dog is tough the first day until it gets back into the swing of things, and then it's nothing but fun....fun for both you and the dog. The first year out with my GSP wasn't that great, but the second year was a totally different dog. The switch was turned on and it was all business. You may be frustrated at times, but remember that practice makes perfect. Put as many miles on as you can with the dog, and going alone with the dog helps at first so it's not too distracted. Hunting with someone else who may get upset at your dog's behavior will make you upset that it isn't doing what it's supposed to do, and it will translate to the dog as well. Keep it positive!

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Understood Frank and no disrespect taken! It just seemed that some may take some of what you said the wrong way with respect to PL's.....so I was hoping to clear a few things up. I don't find meat-dog derogatory in any of its meanings....so no harm there. My current lab is a meat-dog (and a good hunter but being retired because of health) in terms of his overall training (not the pointing way you describe it as).....but the new puppy will not be (hopefully in any meaning of it).

PL's are trained to be steady (broken) all the time....just as other breeds are. Whether that's to fall or not is up to each individual.

All I am saying is that there should be no such thing as a V-Dog that does not point. Period. Further, IMO correct breeding has brought v-dogs/pointers to the a place where pointing, at least to the handler's flush, should happen on its own with nothing more than proper rearing, bird introduction and time in the field. Training is meant to speed up the process and/or to add manners as desired.

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I feel a lot better!!!

the one thing I have been worried about is that my dog would be 100 yds ahead of me, he is the opposite of that he wont go more than 30 yds ahead of me without stopping. he wants to be next to me all the time(this could be bad).

He must have good Parents because i KNOW i'm a crappy trainer. Reguardless if he finds one bird or not this season he is still a good buddy to have around! thank you guys for telling me what to expect out of a first year pup.

Sorry for him he gets his nuts cut off tomorrow, so he wont be ready for opener. hopefully he can forgive me!

I hope everyone that reads this that they are in good health and have a good season. i'll have more Questions as the season goes on shocked I could only hope our pups meet on the trail

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(1) He's a baby...once he figures out the birds are in front of you he'll leave your hip pocket. He may just need a little coaxing.

(2) Don't worry about range. Pointers should point and hold the bird. A GSP is not a flusher and does not need to hunt within gun range. If the dog does begin to range out way past where you feel comfortable you can always hunt him with a check cord a couple of times and he will shorted up. It's always easier to range dogs in that put range on.

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It's always easier to range dogs in that put range on.

Bingo. I've got a shorthair pup just about a month younger, and I picked her from the litter specifically because she looked like she loved to run and range, which has turned out to be the case. Admittedly she's a bit high strung for some people's tastes, but as for me, I'd be much more concerned if she didn't do this.

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Here is Gunner, the end of his second time out in the field he has surpassed my first season expectations incredibly. I couldnt be more proud of him!

ht80917011.jpg

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